Namaqualand during the Flower Season

Orange and yellow spring flower carpet in Namaqualand.

The area stretching north and west from Cape Town is an austere landscape with its own, rather minimalist, aesthetic - and it's not much appreciated outside of flower season. But desert and semi-desert areas do have their own appeal.

The sky is open and beautiful. The distant hills and the many-coloured rocks are an awesome sight even though their colour ranges are a palette of browns and greys and dusky purples.

Of course, this all changes in spring, when there is absolutely no lack of colour whatsoever. Any colour you can think of, you'll find. During the flowering season, for a few weeks over August and September, it's a case of trying to fit as much colour and shape in as possible into the area.

Superlatives don't do justice to this spectacle. You will find yourself constantly changing your focus from gazing out across a few acres of multicoloured daisies, which almost seem to have been cultivated, or focusing close to your feet and revelling in the myriad of different flowers co-existing in the space of a few metres.

No exaggeration, you will find acres of daisies, or brightly coloured bulbs. Tiny little pockets of delicate flowering plants create a private garden every few metres down the road and everywhere, flowers flourish for their brief but sublime moment in the sun.

Obviously, the exact timing of the flowering and the very best viewing positions change from year to year and even within the season, so it is best to get the latest up-to-date flower reports before heading off. Truly, the blooming of the desert is almost biblical in its proportions.

And when the sun goes down and the daisies, vygies, orchids and the other flowers curl up their petals against the chill - the stars are almost as impressive. Like anywhere, the desert sky is a stupendous starlit expanse - with the Southern Cross hanging over it all.

South Africa Nature Reserves : Game Reserves and National Parks
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